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THAILAND PRESS CONFERENCE

By Brent Alexander,2014-06-28 10:57
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THAILAND PRESS CONFERENCE ...

SPEECH BY H.E. MR WEERASAK KOWSURAT, MINISTER OF TOURISM AND SPORTS

    AT THE INTERNATIONAL TOURISMUS BORSE (ITB 2008) THAILAND PRESS

    CONFERENCE

    Friday 7 March 2008, Saal Berlin

    Sawasdee khrap and good afternoon members of the media. A very warm welcome to all of you.

    I‘m delighted to be here taking part in this extraordinary event. I look forward to meeting many of you and hope that this leads to many more discussions and exchanges in the near future.

I‘d like to begin by sharing with you a broad outline of our plans for Thailand‘s tourism

    industry.

    As one of the key drivers of Thailand‘s economic growth, tourism continues to play an increasingly important role in the country‘s national, economic and social development and ranks high on the national agenda.

    Today, over 14 million foreign tourists contribute more than 12 billion US Dollars to the Thai economy. I have always believed that a vibrant tourism industry is one that is well-balanced, profitable and sustainable. A strong and efficient tourism industry will greatly benefit everyone involved and allow all stakeholders to enjoy their fair share of the resulting business.

    With a democratically elected government in place, the Thai business community and our International Partners in business and trade are eager to see Thailand back on the path of growth as soon as possible.

    I am a strong advocate of mobilizing the participation and support of all segments of society in order to move the industry forward. I would like to emphasize that every single player, every single stakeholder in the Thai tourism industry, whether in Thailand or abroad, is most welcomed to participate in this process, starting right now at ITB Berlin. I can reassure you all that our Thai delegation here in Berlin, will make the most of this opportunity to meet with our counterparts and build mutually beneficial relationships that will prosper well into the future.

    Thailand has been searching for an inspirational theme that creates interest and excitement; a catalyst for action that brings people together and inspires each and every one of us to play our part. To create this momentum, The Royal Thai Government has officially announced 2008 and 2009, ―Visit Thailand Year.‖

    With this newly-launched national tourism campaign, we aim to showcase the best of Thailand in many aspects. We are also encouraging investments in tourism related projects, whether large or small, as part of Thailand‘s 2008-2009 ―Thailand Investment Year‖

Thailand currently ranks among the ‗World‘s Best‘ in numerous readers surveys and online

    polls conducted by the world‘s leading travel publications. In 2007 alone, Thailand won more than forty (40) internationally-recognized awards.

    According to research findings, Thailand is noted for its warm hospitality, the friendliness of Thai people, cultures and quality of services. International visitors often describe their stay in the Thai kingdom as being a memorable experience.

Ladies and gentlemen

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    ? We will strive to maintain this record of excellence and strengthen Thailand‘s brand

    image by reinforcing the country‘s positioning as a year-round tourist destination that

    offers excellent value for money.

    Our government has announced a plan to work in conjunction with the local

    authorities, private sectors, and communities to determine the appropriate measure

    to ensure the sustainability of the environmental and natural resources. To cope with

    the plan, we intend to promote high quality tourism, we will step up efforts and focus

    more attention, especially to attract quality visitors as well as investors with a higher

    sense of awareness of the diversity of global cultures and environment.

    ? Although Thailand continues to enjoy growth from established inbound markets such

    as UK, Germany, France, Scandinavia, the US, Japan and Korea, in recent years, we

    have pursued a pro-active marketing strategy and ventured into new high potential

    markets. Thailand attracts a significant increase in visitors from Russia, China, India

    and the Middle East. These are some of the fastest-growing markets for tourism to

    Thailand.

    ? We have also been promoting a vast range of sophisticated award-winning products

    to high potential customer segments.

Ladies and gentlemen

    I’d like to take a moment to highlight a few of these niche market segments that

    might be of interest to you.

First of all, diving. Thailand ranks among the world‘s Top 10 diving destinations and is one of

    the world's most frequented diving destinations welcoming over half a million divers every

    year. According to the organizers of Asia Dive Expo, Thailand is one of Asia's most important

    diving markets.

The island of Koh Tao, Thailand‘s most popular diving destination for beginners, accounts for

    approximately 30 per cent of all diving certificates issued around the world. Koh Tao also

    ranks among the world‘s top 10 diving sites. Noted for its impressive tropical coastal

    landscape and underwater world with coral reefs teeming with a tremendous variety of

    colorful marine life, the island attracts an increasing numbers of visitors each year.

On the other hand, for travelers who come in search of relaxing rejuvenating and healthy

    holidays, Thailand is also a unique wellness destination featuring dozens of first-class spas

    and wellness retreats that offer a vast range of pampering, beauty and body treatments

    derived from many ancient traditions in Asia.

Ladies and gentlemen

    Having recovered from the Tsunami in 2004, the tropical island paradise of Phuket was

    named Asia's Maritime Capital at the 2007 Chrisofle Asia Boating Awards. The southern resort

    hub attracted the popular votes among the 20 judges, who awarded Phuket for its first-class

    boating facilities, which include modern marinas, state-of-the-art docks and prime chartering.

―Meaningful tourism‖ describes the new wave in traveling. Today‘s travelers are no longer

    fulfilled by just getting on a tour bus. They want to interact with the host community. They

    want to go and learn something to feel and touch. Many go in search of a life-changing

    experience such as Buddhist meditation. This interest gives rise to new demand for cultural

    immersion programs such as home-stays, farm stays and agro-tourism where visitors are able

    to interact with local communities. Riverside communities throughout Thailand attract much

    interest as they are ‗living museums‘ of Thai folk culture. This is what an increasing cross-

    section of contemporary travelers which includes school and gap-year students, people in

    mid-career breaks as well as retirees are seeking.

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Ladies and gentlemen

    ? The strengths that have made Thailand one of the world‘s most successful leisure

    destinations have also made Thailand a popular choice for Hollywood, Bollywood and

    everything in between. Excellent climate; sunny, clear blue skies for most of the year,

    the tremendous natural and cultural diversity for stage settings and backdrops;

    skilled personnel with a ‗can do‘ attitude; service excellence and excellent value for

    money as a film location and for pre- and post-production. Thailand is a location

    scout‘s dream.

    In 2006, over 500 productions were shot and/or produced in Thailand. These include

    movies, feature films, documentaries, TV series, game shows, reality shows, and

    music videos. Hollywood box office hits and multi-million dollar productions that have

    been recently shot in Thailand include American Gangster, Alexander and Rambo.

    This June, Thailand will be hosting the Indian International Film Academy Awards,

    one of the most prestigious awards for the Bollywood film industry. We expect to

    welcome fifteen thousand participants from the global film industry. This will

    significantly raise the awareness and reiterate the ―Thailand‖ brand among millions of

    international fans.

Ladies and gentlemen

    ? Thailand is very fortunate indeed to have a high percentage of return visitors who are

    ‗fans‘ and ‗Friends of Thailand‘. This includes many of you in this audience.

    With 64 per cent of visitors to Thailand being return visitors, the Thai kingdom has no

    shortage of fascinating tourism experiences to share with world travelers. These

    include colorful regional variations in culture and cuisine, the mystique of Buddhist

    meditation, rejuvenating traditional Thai massage for health, other health and

    wellness and holistic healing techniques or beauty treatments based on Thai folk

    wisdom. I‘m delighted to inform you that ―Muay Thai‖, Thai boxing, has become an

    international phenomenon with a large number of followers in over 175 countries

    around the world.

Let’s now turn to the overall performance for the tourism sector.

In 2007, Thailand welcomed 14.5 million visitors, registering a growth of 4.65 per cent over

    2006, which is in line with our target. This year, we are anticipating almost 16 million

    international visitors to Thailand, an increase of 6 per cent over 2007, with tourism revenue

    estimated at 25 million US Dollars. The target for domestic travel in 2008 is set at 83 million

    trips, equivalent to a 1.23 per cent increase which is expected to generate 12 million US

    Dollars in revenue.

Germany is Thailand‘s second largest market in Europe, second only to the UK. In 2007,

    Thailand welcomed half a million German visitors, an increase of 5.4 per cent over 2006. We

    are seeing strong growth in the number of German first-time travelers, convention delegates,

    students, and retirees. The average length of stay has now increased to 16 days.

In 2007, we welcomed a total of 3.9 million visitors from Europe, an increase of 11.8 per cent

    over 2006. The countries with the strongest growth are Russia with a 47 per cent increase,

    followed by Finland with a 29 per cent increase, and Sweden, a 23 per cent increase.

Overall, we‘re optimistic that Thailand will continue to see strong growth in visitor arrivals

    from Germany and Europe. Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern

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Europe are the key markets in which we‘ve launched promotional campaigns, especially for

    medical tourism, health and wellness.

In addition to Thailand being recognized as a world-class spa capital, hospitals in Thailand

    are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities and are staffed

    by highly qualified medical professionals in all areas of the practice. When compared to the

    services a foreign patient receives in their home country, most indicate that the services

    provided by medical facilities in Thailand offer far greater value for money.

It is indeed a major advantage for Thailand that we are given a very positive image around

    the world. This enables Thailand to hold a significant competitive advantage over many other

    Asian destinations. This is largely due to support from our media friends around the world,

    for which we are very grateful.

We have made a conscious effort to shift our focus concentrating on quality rather than

    quantity. This will continue to be our guiding principle in the coming years.

We have also repositioned our product offerings in response to changes in consumer

    behavior. We took stock of our inventory of products and re-classified them into seven

    distinct categories, presented under the theme of ―Seven Amazing Wonders of Thailand‖ .

These seven sub-themes are Thainess. Treasure products, which include Land of Heritage

    and History covering the World Heritage and historical sites, temples, and Thai museums.

    Beaches. Nature. Health and Wellness. Trendy. And Festivities.

By offering niche tourism products that cater to the needs and interests of individual market

    segments, this helps us to promote our newly-launched ‗Visit Thailand Year‘ with greater

    precision. The ―Seven Amazing Wonders of Thailand‖ theme helps travelers to form a much

    clearer mental picture of ―Destination Thailand‖ and enables them to make travel decisions

    quicker and easier.

Ladies and gentlemen

    ? As many of you know, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, or TCEB, was

    established as a private organization dedicated solely to the promotion of Meetings,

    Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions to be hosted in Thailand. In the past three to

    four years, Thailand‘s Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, or ―MICE‖,

    industry has enjoyed an annual growth rate of approximately 20 per cent. We expect

    to see this continue for the next few years.

    Thai Airways International, our national carrier, is also coordinating with TCEB to

    achieve this objective by increasing its activity in the MICE market not only in

    Thailand, but also throughout the rest of Southeast Asian region, especially during

    low traffic seasons, during mid-week and less popular flight departure times.

I’d now like to highlight some of the new developments.

    ? Although there was speculation regarding an economic slowdown in Thailand over

    the past year, there was a steady increase in demand for hotel and resort

    accommodation and holiday homes from domestic as well as international tourists

    and long-stay visitors. As a result, international property developers remained

    confident and pursued many new projects. Much of this property investment is

    concentrated in key high growth, high potential resort destinations such as Hua Hin,

    Pranburi, Phuket, Khao Lak, Phang-nga, Krabi, Samui, Chiang Mai and Pattaya. This

    is also in line with ―The Royal Coast‖ or ―Thailand Riviera‖ project, which will offer an

    even more impressive scheme for mega-investments around and all the way along

    the Gulf of Thailand starting from the first sand dune from the far east of the Gulf, in

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    Chanthaburi, passing through the entire Eastern Seaboard, touching Pattaya, estuary and mangrove in Samut Prakan, Bangkok, fisherman town of Samut Sakhon, the stretch of fine beaches along the upper part of the Gulf and continued to the stunning water front of the Southern coast.

    The Royal Coast, or Thailand Riviera, offers an unlimited investment opportunities for those who believe in the charm of water sports complex, aquarium, theme parks, recreational activities, luxury transportation along and connecting to various destinations along the entire coast line.

    For the lower part of the Gulf and in connection with the Andaman sea, the first and only seaplane shuttle service is now available. Visitors can now enjoy this new door-to-door service to most major hotels and resorts in Phi Phi Island, Krabi and Koh Lanta. The shuttle departs from Phuket International Airport and lands directly in the waterfront of most major hotel resorts. Further landing locations are planned for Similans, Koh Racha, and Khao Lak.

    ? With a steady increase in the number of luxury resorts and spas and prime properties opening in the ‗Royal Paradise‘ of Hua Hin, Thailand‘s first seaside resort is attracting an ever-increasing number of affluent international travelers. This has also led to a demand for an air shuttle service that provides a convenient and welcome alternative to the three-hour drive from Bangkok to Hua Hin, and neighboring Pranburi. The 40 minute Bangkok-Hua Hin air-shuttle service reduces the travel time between Bangkok and Hua Hin by more than two hours and essentially provides an express transfer service for hotel guests, particularly for travelers arriving on long-haul flights from Europe.

    ? Thai Airways International has recently launched its twice daily service to the popular southern resort island of Samui in February 2008. THAI aims to make the route very competitive by marketing it to tourists from major European cities currently served by THAI connecting through Suvarnabhumi Airport.

    From another perspective, the Western part of Thailand is also home of the limestone mountain range which stretches from Kanchanaburi all the way up to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We have discovered at least 112 hot springs of various types which have high potentials for developing into spa cities and hot spring resorts. This shall be another paradise for athlete camps, resorts for health and wellness as well as beauty and body treatments.

    Ladies and gentlemen before I finish my presentation, it gives me great pleasure

    to give you a quick overview of some key upcoming events.

    ? April 13 15: Songkran Festival

    The water-splashing aspect of Songkran is now very well known all around the world, so during the 2008 Visit Thailand Year, we will be highlighting customs and traditions that reflect the true meaning of Songkran. For example, merit-making to ensure smooth-sailing throughout the coming year and thanksgiving the expression of

    gratitude for all the goodwill and blessings one has received and to show respect. Thanksgiving is reflected in the ceremonial aspects of Songkran such as the bathing of Buddha statues with water and the pouring of water over the hands of elders and respected individuals.

    ? Following the world-renowned Songkran festival, our attention turns to The PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) "CEO Challenge 2008: Confronting Climate Change". Hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and organized in partnership with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) and the Burba Hotel Network (BHN), the PATA CEO Challenge presents the first opportunity for the entire travel and tourism

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    industry in Asia Pacific to agree on practical solutions to confront climate change, one

    of the greatest global threats. The event will be held in Bangkok on April 29th and

    30th.

    ? From June 5 8: (Thailand Travel Mart Plus - 2008)

    We are hosting the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+2008) Amazing Gateway to the

    Mekong Sub region in conjunction with the Thailand Tourism Festival (TTF 2008),

    promoting both Thailand as well as its neighboring countries in the Greater Mekong

    Sub region Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao , Vietnam and China (Yunnan and Guangxi).

    ? On November 12th: Loi Krathong Festival

    The ‗Festival of Lights‘ is held on the full moon night of November. The most

    spectacular of all the traditional Thai festivals, Loi Krathong is one of the Kingdom's

    oldest and best-preserved traditions.

    Finally, towards the end of this November, Phuket King's Cup Regatta inaugurated in

    1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King and has been held

    annually since, in honor of His Majesty who graciously agreed to be patron of the

    event. The Phuket Regatta has evolved into Asia's biggest and most popular regatta

    and is the jewel of the crown of the Asian Yachting Circuit. This year, the event will

    be held from November 29th through to December 6th.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope I have convinced you that there‘s never a dull moment in the

    Kingdom of Thailand. There‘s much to see, to do, to taste, to experience … And to write

    about.

Please do join us in the ‗Land of Smiles‘ during the ‗Visit Thailand Year‘. We promise you a

    quality vacation Sanuk‘, Sabai (comfort), Aroy (great food), and the finest of Thai

    hospitality.

    Thank you for your kind attention. It has been a real pleasure being with you this afternoon.

    Sawasdee khrap.

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